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Dan Quinn Meets With Players, Assistant Coach About Effort, Poise

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Dan Quinn meets with players, assistant coach about effort, poise

http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/17975/dan-quinn-meets-with-players-assistant-coach-about-effort-poise

  • Matt Winkeljohn

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Losing always stinks, but Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Monday the lopsided nature of his team’s sixth straight defeat -- 38-0 Sunday at Carolina -- was, “Way worse, no doubt.”

The first-year head coach, who had sit-down meetings with at least two players and an assistant coach, has preached to players about giving their all and keeping their poise.

Yet a day after the Falcons (6-7) were shut out for the first time since 2004, Quinn went face-to-face with cornerback Robert Alford on the topic of effort, and with defensive linemen Alford appeared to stop defending Carolina wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. moments before he caught a 74-yard touchdown pass that contributed to the Panthers’ 21-0 first-quarter lead.

Hageman got in a sideline shoving match with Cox shortly after the play.

On the play itself, Ginn was beyond Alford on the left sideline, and it looked like he stopped running as Cam Newton’s pass was in the air.

“It certainly did,” Quinn said. “We are all about finishing so that one was difficult for him and for us. We met this morning. There is no discipline. He’s the same guy that won the ballgame for us against the Washington Redskins [with an overtime interception return Oct. 11]. I have all the faith in him.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn saw some things he didn't like in a blowout loss to the Panthers. AP Photo/Bob Leverone

A flag had flown in the vicinity prior to the catch, and Alford may have felt that Ginn had stepped out of bounds -- which would have made him an ineligible receiver -- or he was guilty of offensive pass interference when the two made contact. Alford was not available Monday.

Officials did not rule Ginn had stepped out of bounds and the flag was likely going to be for pass interference.

Quinn was disappointed that Alford let up on the play.

On the game’s third play, the third-year veteran failed to hold containment as Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart busted a 44-yard run on a drive that ended with the Panthers taking a 7-0 lead.

Alford also dropped a potential interception Sunday, and was twice whistled for interference only to have Carolina decline both calls.

“The fact that he didn’t play the way he’s capable on that play and a couple others, that was a conversation we absolutely had,” Quinn said. “[The dropped interception] was one of them as well.”

Hageman, who also was unavailable Monday, appeared annoyed following the extra point that came after the first of Ginn’s two long touchdowns. When Cox tried to calm the second-year pro, Hageman shoved him. Quinn intervened on the sideline.

Nerves are frayed in Atlanta, where memories of the Falcons’ starts of 5-0 and 6-1 have faded. Four losses have come in one-score games, and the Minnesota Vikings beat Atlanta 20-10 on Nov. 29.

Sunday in Charlotte was different in a lot of ways, with a slew of uncomfortable moments.

“Two emotional guys, disagreement ... for sure that is one I handled in-house with both of them,” the head coach said. “They’re both top-notch guys. Cox, looking out for [Hageman]. It was an emotional time, but at no time is that going to be part of our football way. I talked to both of them about it.”

I'm sorry coach but it's time to start benching some of these guys because we can't do any worse at this point!!!!!!

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One-years wonder about future with Falcons

  • Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

O'Brien Schofield is a team player, as folks inside the Atlanta Falcons' locker room quickly found out about the outside linebacker.

However, it's only natural for Schofield to start thinking harder about his own future as the regular season winds down. He was one of a handful of veterans who signed one-year deals with the Falcons last offseason with hopes of earning long-term consideration.

"When I first I got here, I was offered a two-year deal, but I turned it down to prove to them the type of player I was and also, possibly gain more money from a later contract," said Schofield, who will earn $1.7 million this season. "When you're on a one-year deal, it's always tough when you have a family. You think about moving around. From a financial standpoint, you're kind of in a hole sitting there because each offseason, you don't know where you're going to be.

"My goal coming here was to solidify myself and put myself in as good a position as possible to continue my career here, or finish my career here. Whatever works."

Although the production hasn't been there in terms of sacks (two), Schofield has shown flashes throughout the season with 13 quarterback hits and four tackles for loss. He's also emerged as a vocal leader. Regardless, not too many players are assured a roster spot next season on a team that has lost six in a row heading into Sunday's matchup with Jacksonville. There is sure to be plenty of change to help upgrade the roster.

One of the new Falcons who signed a one-year deal, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, already is gone after suffering a hamstring injury and being released from injured reserve. He is now with the New England Patriots, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Hankerson simply wasn't in the team's long-term plans.

Defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn, a former first-round draft pick of theTampa Bay Buccaneers, knew he had no choice but to sign a one year "prove-it" contract ($2.1 million) after dealing with his share of injuries with the Buccaneers. Clayborn has two sacks and 13 quarterback hits to tie Schofield for the team lead.

"To be honest with you, I'm just going to finish the year," Clayborn said. "I want to finish the year the way I started: playing hard and playing the only way I know how to play. The rest with handle itself. That's the model I've always gone by.

"Yes, it was a prove-it deal that I signed. It's not going quite how I wanted it to go, but I feel like I've played the way people know I can play and have stayed healthy -- knock on wood. Guys sign one-year deals all the time. It will work itself out whether I'm here or wherever else. I'd love to stay here. That's no question."

Defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann, a former fifth-round draft pick, has been with the Falcons since 2008. But Biermann signed a one-year, $1.925 million deal with a chance to show the new coaching staff he could be valuable. Although his signing made some fans cringe, Biermann could be the toughest player on the team. And teammates such a Schofield would tell you Biermann has played his reserve role rather well this season.

Biermann doesn't get caught up in outside perception. He's not concerned with his contract situation, either.

"It's about us and trying to get this done, and that stuff comes in the offseason," Biermann said. "I've always put out my best foot forward and have tried to do what's been ask of me and tried to be as successful as possible. I love the game of football. I love playing. I love being out there.

"Atlanta's been good. The owner [Arthur Blank] has been awesome to my family and this team since I've been here. He's got a great head on his shoulders and has taken this franchise in a good direction. I've never been to another NFL team, but I would imagine there are some crazy thing that go on in other locker rooms. And I feel like I've been fortunate not to have to deal with any of that."

Other players on one-year contracts needing to make the most of the final three games include right guard Chris Chester, linebacker Philip Wheeler, tight endTony Moeaki and former first overall pick Jake Long, who saw 10 snaps at right tackle last week in place of Ryan Schraeder.

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